award

Joanne Dahme Wins City’s Dilworth Award for Customer Service

Joanne Dahme, General Manager of Public Affairs at the Philadelphia Water Department, with Commissioner Debra McCarty and Mayor Jim Kenney after receiving the Richardson Dilworth Award  for Excellence in Customer Service.
Joanne Dahme, General Manager of Public Affairs at the Philadelphia Water Department (at center), with Commissioner Debra McCarty and Mayor Jim Kenney after receiving the Richardson Dilworth Award  for Excellence in Customer Service.

Here at the Philadelphia Water Department, Joanne Dahme is more than General Manager of the Public Affairs Division.

She is a cheerleader, a champion and a motivational force that keeps the rest of the department on its toes, always striving to serve the people of Philadelphia not just with good service, but with energy and a positive attitude.

Joanne, who originally began her career as a Water Pollution Control Plant engineer 34 years ago, runs circles around all of us at PWD. And then, after work, she goes home, does some actual running, and dedicates her time to her family, her neighborhood, and her other passion—writing novels for young adults.

That kind of energy makes it hard not to get inspired when you work with Joanne.

On September 13, the City of Philadelphia recognized her unwavering dedication to her work and the citizens she serves in a big way: Joanne was given the Richardson Dilworth Award for Excellence in Customer Service, one of the most prestigious awards a City employee can receive.

Green City, Clean Waters Named ‘Climate Hero’ at Sustain PHL Celebration

Philadelphia Water picked up the Sustain PHL Climate Hero Award (center) on Aug. 18. Credit: Philadelphia Water
Philadelphia Water picked up the Sustain PHL Climate Hero Award (center) on Aug. 18. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Philadelphia Water and the Green City, Clean Waters program received the first-ever Climate Hero Award at Sustain PHL, a citywide sustainability celebration held before a packed house at the WHYY studios on August 18.

PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug Receives 2015 Arbor Day Award!

Green City, Clean Water Trees and Howard Neukrug
Green City, Clean Waters stormwater trees (left) and PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug (right)

We are delighted to announce that PWD Commissioner Howard Neukrug is the recipient of a 2015 Arbor Day Award from the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of his outstanding contribution to tree planting, conservation and stewardship! 

Since 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the inspiring work of leading environmental stewards and tree planters with their annual Arbor Day Awards. This year Commissioner Neukrug is one of 13 individuals, organizations and companies being recognized. He is the recipient of the Excellence in Urban Forestry Leadership Award for his role in helping to create, oversee and implement Green City, Clean Waters

Green City, Clean Waters uses trees and other plants in its green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) systems to help soak up and capture rainwater where it falls. By capturing the water where it falls, the volume of runoff is reduced in Philadelphia’s combined sewer system, which improves the health of the surrounding creeks and rivers. In the last fiscal year, 1,252 trees were planted through the Green City, Clean Waters program!

Green City, Clean Waters is the single largest green stormwater infrastructure program in the nation…. But the realization of the program – and its daily implementation – is achieved through the passion and dedication of Philadelphia Water's own Office of Watersheds, and the strong partnership and leadership provided by our sister agencies – Philadelphia's Parks & Recreation and Office of Sustainability. It is a pleasure and honor to have such steadfast support
--Howard Neukrug

The Green Streets component of Green City, Clean Waters is helping transform Philadelphia into a greener city with tree-lined streets. Trees planted through Green City, Clean Waters not only manage stormwater water but enhance the air quality, improve property values and beautify neighborhoods. Green City, Clean Waters also boosts the sustainability and greening goals of Philadelphia’s Greenworks Plan, which aims to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the nation. 

A ceremony for Arbor Day award recipients will be held at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on Saturday, April 25 and we can’t wait to attend! 

We Won! Green City, Clean Waters Wins the National APA Planning Excellence Award

Back in October we announced that Green City, Clean Waters was awarded the American Planning Association (APA) Pennsylvania Chapter's Planning Excellence Award in Implementation. We are now thrilled to announce that we won the APA 2015 National Planning Excellence Award for ImplementationThis award recognizes a project that demonstrates positive changes as a result of planning efforts. The award emphasizes long-term, measurable results that have been in continuous effect for a minimum of three years.

Now in our fourth year of Green City, Clean Waters, we have worked to implement green stormwater infrastructure citywide:

  • Projects complete: 113 
  • Projects in design or under construction: 187 
  • Private property technical assistance requests: 450 
  • Grant funding for retrofitting existing properties with green infrastructure: $14 million. 

And some positive spin-off effects of these projects have already been documented, like the recent study linking our green stormwater projects to drops in certain kinds of crimes. Learn more about why we were granted the award by checking out the APA web page featuring Green City, Clean Waters

green infrastructure graphic

The APA Awards Jury Chair, W. Shedrick Coleman, lauded Green City, Clean Waters for setting “the benchmark for meeting state and federal water quality mandates through solely green interventions” and “changing the face of the city.” Pretty high praise!

Green City, Clean Waters and the other APA award recipients will be honored at the 2015 National Planning Awards luncheon on April 20, 2015, in Seattle. Our plan will also be featured in the April 2015 issue of Planning magazine (we will be happy to autograph your copy)!

Thanks to the American Planning Association for this great recognition. But as much as we love getting awards, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Green City, Clean Waters is a 25-year plan to improve water quality in Philadelphia and create a healthier, more sustainable city through green stormwater infrastructure. We’ll be changing the face of the city—in a good way—for another two decades! Plenty more good news to come!

Philly's Secret? Good Water = Good Beer



Some years ago a baker who was setting up shop down south asked me to provide a summary of everything in Philadelphia’s water. He said that Philadelphia’s water makes really good bread, and he wanted to replicate our chemistry at his distant location. Philly does have good bread and soft pretzels. And good beer, too!  It turns out that one of the keys to Philadelphia’s tasty bread, pretzels and beer is keeping the yeast happy and enabling their enzymes to work their magic.

So how is that related to our water? The only thing I knew about the beer-making process was that brewers had to remove the chlorine residual from the water before using it, so in a quest to find out more, I bought a book titled Water – A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (John Palmer and Colin Kaminski, 2013, Brewers Publications). 

The book confirmed that the natural ingredients in water are important to brewing. One way to get water that’s good for brewing is to remove everything from it and then add back the minerals and salts at just the right levels. The other way is to establish a brewery where the water is naturally good—lucky for us, Philadelphia’s breweries fall in this category. The most important characteristics of water, besides it not having any off flavors or contaminants, are the pH, hardness with calcium and magnesium, and alkalinity. The process of making a flavorful beer is affected by these characteristics and different beers, lighter or darker for example, have different needs. The water's composition affects the yeast, their enzymes, the beer’s clarity and flavor, and its stability. Sodium, chloride, sulfate and other ingredients in water at the right levels are also helpful.

According to the book, Philadelphia’s water stacks up well when it comes the most important ingredients in water. These ingredients largely come from the rivers, naturally. Although considered moderately hard, Philly water is on the lower end for hardness, especially for calcium, but that can be added during the brewing process.

Our water may explain, in part, why there are so many fantastic breweries and bakeries in our city. And since we’re on the subject of Philly beer, it is worth noting that Yards Brewery recently won a Good Food Award for being eco- friendly and delicious. Yards is powered completely off the grid by 100% wind power, their packaging is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, they send their used grain to local farms to be used as feed and the brewhouse collects and reuses 2 million gallons of water per year! So the next time you reach for a beer, drink responsibly and consider the environment and the flavor. 

PWD Wins EPA Award for Turning Poop Into Power!

Amanda Byrne accepts EPA Green Power Leadership Award
PWD Energy Team member Amanda Byrne accepts EPA Green Energy Leadership Award 

It’s not often that PWD gets to share the stage with tech superstars Apple and Google, the design mavens at Herman Miller, or the cool kids at REI and Trek Bicycles. But on December 3rd at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Sacramento, PWD Energy Team member Amanda Byrne (pictured above) represented the city of Philadelphia, which received one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Awards in the On-site Green Power Generation category. The award recognizes “achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.” 

Philadelphia received the award because of the Greenworks plan and its commitment to purchase and generate 20 percent of its electricity from alternative energy sources. A big step towards reaching that target comes from PWD’s Biogas Cogeneration Facility at the Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP), where we’re literally turning the city’s poop into power! The award also recognizes two additional green power projects by PWD, a sewage geothermal installation and solar photovoltaic system, both at PWD’s Southeast WPCP.

The 5.6 megawatt Biogas Cogeneration Facility—our largest green power project to date—came online just about one year ago today and produces about 40 million kilowatt-hours annually. This is the equivalent of avoiding 32,300 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year, the same as taking over 5,000 cars off the road! This facility is also estimated to save $12 million over the course of the next 16 years by producing 85% of the plant’s annual electricity needs right on site.

How does it work? It’s diagram time!
Biogas Cogeneration Diagram 

This plant’s primary responsibility is removing pollutants from our wastewater before sending that water back into the ecosystem. And we’ve figured out how to take the very… uh… stuff (this is a family blog, after all) we pull out of the water and use it to produce fuel for running the plant! So… yeah. Keep flushing Philadelphia!

This is the second EPA Green Power Leadership Award for the City of Philadelphia, which also won in 2012 for Green Power Purchasing. Want to learn more about the EPA’s Green Power Leaders and see who else got to share the stage with PWD and Google? Check out the EPA’s release here.

Join Us at Overbrook for the EPA Environmental Justice Grant Award

Exciting things are happening over at the Overbrook Environmental Education Center! What started out as a former brownfield site has now been transformed into an eco-friendly, urban environmental center with stormwater systems, orchard trees, a greenhouse and much more.

Tomorrow, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe is scheduled to announce the EPA’s Region III – Environmental Justice Small Grant Awards at Overbrook Environmental Education Center. Award recipients include JASTECH Development Services Inc. (Overbrook Environmental Education Center), the Clean Air Council and the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations, Inc.

After the Deputy Administrator’s presentation, he will tour the Soak-It-Up Adoption pilot project site with students from Overbrook’s partner schools including Overbrook Elementary, Parkway West and Richard Allen Charter.

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